Facebook Twitter



Question - My allergies are killing me and I need a whole-house air cleaner. What is the most effective and easy-to-install air cleaner that will not reduce the efficiency of my central air conditioner and furnace? - H. W.

Answer - There are new designs of whole-house air cleaners (mount in forced-air furnace/air-conditioning blower) that can remove up to 99 percent of pollen, molds, cat dander, smoke, etc. from the air. I have allergies myself and I have tested many different air cleaner designs in my own heat pump.

Several easy-to-install air cleaners slip into the existing one-inch filter slot with no modifications. Installing one improves your air conditioner and furnace efficiency by keeping the dust off the heat exchanger coils.

Residential air cleaner designs include self-charging electrostatic, pleated media, electronic, and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air). Self-charging air cleaners use a combination of materials. This creates a natural static charge to trap allergens and dust. They use no electricity.

You clean the filter element with a garden hose or in a bathtub. The water neutralizes the static charge and the particles easily wash away. With regular cleaning, a self-charging air cleaner will last many years.

One new slip-in self-charging model, System 4, has a small built-in smoke detector (9-volt battery). Its smoke alarm alerts you as it automatically shuts off the furnace blower. It also alerts you when it's time to clean it.

Another slip-in design is available in kits so you can custom size it for your existing filter opening. These air cleaners have permanent antimicrobial treated filter material to control bacteria and fungi growth. Self-charging prefilters are also available for electronic air cleaners.

The most effective (and expensive) air cleaner uses thick HEPA (often used in hospitals) and carbon filters. It removes 99.97 percent of particles down to 0.3 microns, odors, and harmful vapors. The air cleaner has its own blower and housing designed to attach to your ducts for simple installation.

Electronic air cleaners are very effective, particularly for smaller smoke and dust particles. They use only as much electricity as a 40-watt light bulb. You can easily clean the filter elements in your dishwasher.

Disposable pleated media filters are more effective than simple fiberglass filters, but much less so than a HEPA unit. Some cost less than $6 each.

The type of allergies you have determine which type of air cleaner is best for you. Molds and pollen are relatively large particles. Cigarette smoke and some dusts are a hundred times smaller.

Write for Utility Bills Update No. 946 showing a buyer's guide of 15 whole-house air cleaner manufacturers, filtration methods, filter efficiency ratings, prices, and a chart showing which ones are most effective for various allergies. Please include $2.00 and a self-addressed envelope. Write to James Dulley, Deseret News, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244.

Question - I just bought a five-year-old house and the windows have a very slight bluish tint on sunny days. The seller told me they were high-efficiency windows. Should they be bluish? - F. K.

Answer - The sellers probably were telling you the truth. A bluish tint, when viewed from outdoors, is not uncommon with low-e (low-emissivity) glass. The low-e windows in my own home look this way on a sunny day.

A low-e coating, on the inside surface of double-pane windows lets visible light through but blocks heat loss. This type of glass is quickly becoming the standard replacement window glass.